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Old December 21st, 2007, 06:24 PM   #1
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CX7 and LANC controller

Hi - I know a number of you have been asking for a way to interface a LANC controller to the CX7, and as we already knew, the CX7 functions in a sports pack via a LANC type control.

I've reverse engineered (meaning poked sufficiently with sharp probes <wink>) the interface, and can now operate the camera via at least the Sony and Giottos LANC controllers (including manual focus on the Giottos, now out of production, but I'm going to be testing another one shortly that has manual focus).

Anyone interested in either instructions/plans or a completed adapter? This isn't like a big time thing, but I would like to make a bit for my trouble, gas is expensive and all that. Don't figure there's a big demand out there... but not everyone has the time and/or workbench at hand, so I'm offering!

I'm figuring that like myself a lot of you like this little camera, and the extra control ability would be of use... so PM me or whatever and let me know. I'll be researching cost of parts and such as well as availability for DIY'ers and should have something shortly - probably not an expensive thing, unless I'm modding actual LANC controllers...
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Old December 22nd, 2007, 10:01 PM   #2
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Sounds very interesting, to focus on a controller and not just on screen :)

Which still available LANC controller will be able to do it?
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Old December 23rd, 2007, 05:46 AM   #3
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Yeah, actually that was the ONE thing I really wanted to access with the CX7. Even though spot focus is effective, it's handy sometimes to defocus or do a rack, and that's a pain to do on a touch screen any way you slice it!! Little buttons aren't ideal, but the CX actually has a readout when in manual focus mode, and at least with the Giottos, you can switch between auto and manual with another button. AND it would free up the touch screen for spot exposure <wink>!

The Giottos focus functions work perfectly, so now I've got a pocket cam with nearly as much control as a big one. Not bad considering the video quality I'm seeing so far. This could make the CX7 the ultimate stealth cam.

I'm looking around a bit at LANC controllers, going to order one I found on a pro video supply site that's pretty cheap (cheap is good!) and looked small, want to see how it works...

I'm contemplating modding a controller with the A/V connector instead of the standard 2.5mm plug vs. just making an adaptor - I'm preferring the adaptor so I can still use the controller on other cams with "normal" LANC jacks!

There are actually quite a few LANC controllers that have focus and other functions, but most are pricey (did I mention cheap is good?). The adapter shouldn't cost more than $15-20 in parts, and any LANC controller ought to work, so my thought is find the most bang for the least bucks.
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Old December 23rd, 2007, 06:10 AM   #4
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Dave,

I would definitely be interested in a LANC controller for my cx7 so please put me on your list!

BTW - How would it plug into the camera?


Cheers,
Chuck
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Old December 23rd, 2007, 10:47 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck Martinez View Post
BTW - How would it plug into the camera?
I'm assuming he's done this through the Multi A/V plug.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst
Anyone interested in either instructions/plans or a completed adapter?
Yes, interested in both. I tried cutting up one of my own a/v plugs and the pins are so tiny. A completed a/v plug with a lanc jack on one end would be great to have.
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Old December 23rd, 2007, 03:40 PM   #6
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Yes, the LANC will interface throught the A/V "D" shaped jack on the camcorder back. Plug into the A/V jack, turn cam on, use LANC for whatever your particular LANC controls. Since the LANC protocol seems pretty standardized, I expect ANY LANC controller will work, so no need for a new one of those, just need the adapter!

I've got several options I'm considering -

one is just instructions for the DIY (as John notes the wires are very tiny and not easy to work with, so a GOOD soldering iron and soldering skills are a necessity).. maybe not for everyone, I'm used to working with this sort of thing, although now I need a magnifier visor!

Second is a simple adapter cable, with the A/V plug on one end and the 2.5mm jack on the other, just plug whatever LANC you have into it... that's my best thought, and it won't be expensive. I'll put together a couple prototypes once I souce the parts - a week or two probably.

The final option is to modify Lanc controllers one at a time... but I don't like that reversing the procedure isn't going to work well - the LANC would then be dedicated to the CX7 and other Sony cams with the A/V interface...
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Old December 24th, 2007, 04:58 PM   #7
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Dave,

I am very interested. Have you also been able to modify it to include an audio out minijack (I remember reading one of your earlier posts on this possibility). I would be happy to pay for such a modification (I'm hopeless with soldering etc!).

Thanks.
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Old December 24th, 2007, 07:14 PM   #8
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Hi Roger -

Haven't tried it yet, however it should be possible - the awkward thing is it means two separate jacks, one for LANC and one for Mic, meaning a bigger adapter... or two adapters, one for each purpose. It's just a matter of physical size for a housing for the jacks... don't want too big a box or whatnot!

For the LANC it's just a short lead from the A/V plug to an inline 2.5mm jack - really compact, and should be durable - adding another jack and a second cable becomes an issue with flexing the cable, but I may figure something out - If I were doing it, probably put something with a cold shoe mount for a bracket mount for stability, but now the rig is getting a bit bulky!

My thinking is the smallest simplest solution to match the cam. Will consider the options though - maybe I can find a small box that could mount under the cam.

I'll test the rigging for external mic input shortly and see if there are any issues - I was able to mount the HW1 wireless and got both the internal mics and the HW1 signal just fine with the adapter in place, so I'm not sure whether I can convince the camera to shut down the internal mics... Will post results once I've poked at it some more!
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Old December 24th, 2007, 07:48 PM   #9
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Hi Dave,

Thanks for the quick reply. "Sounds" promising!

Actually I am wondering if it's possible to make TWO small adapters, one for the LANC, and another for audio (input and output seems possible from your post - that's great)? I would be interested in both and would use both of them depending on circumstances. I know it seems not so ideal but I agree with you that simplicity and portability are important - I don't want to load down the camera!

Roger
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Old December 24th, 2007, 07:49 PM   #10
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Sorry Dave - just re-read your post and realize that you did suggest two separate adapters - that would work for me. Thanks.
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Old December 24th, 2007, 08:29 PM   #11
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fiddling on the bench right now, so will know shortly... would definitely be two separate adapters or a minibox of some sort. It'd be "LANC" with a 2.3mm jack or Mic input with 1/8" jack, so you could tell them apart. In theory you could also do other configurations, but it would just be the A/V cable that comes with the cam, with different plugs/jacks...

I was most interested in the LANC capability for external control, as I am pleasantly surprised by the internal mics and the HW1, but I guess being able to throw a good Rode Mic or somesuch on this could be handy... good thing they didn't make it any smaller! I've noted that the reports on the internal mics under "extreme" conditions have not been good, so I do see a reason that some might need BOTH LANC and Mic in... anyone really NEED that, or should I not worry about that capability??


I'm just checking my details, so I can spec this out for parts ASAP - seems like a lot of interest, and I'll put up a web site I guess so anyone that wants one can get an order in... hope it's not too "successful", but see a need... fill a need... (obscure movie quote time) and I can crank these out pretty fast once my parts are lined up.

I'm beginning to doubt how good an idea DIY is for the "average" guy... I've almost got the design finalized, and it'll probably be cheaper and faster to pay me to make the silly things up and stuff 'em in an envelope! Unless Sony has a pile of the obscure part # I need for the short A/V cable in stock, I'll have to go to China...
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Old December 24th, 2007, 09:31 PM   #12
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I'm looking forward to the website and also your modifications. I definitely have a need for some kind of audio in/out. At present I am using the Sony AIS adapter that allows me to plug in for example, the Rode mic but I can't hear the sound I'm recording! That's most frustrating.

LANC for focus control would be great but as earlier posts discussed, two adapters for the two functions would be more in keeping with the camera's portability etc.

I'm hopeless at DIY and it never comes out right - it's great if you are able to produce these adapters! Thanks.
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Old December 24th, 2007, 09:34 PM   #13
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OK, good news and bad news... the mic inputs work fine...

HOWEVER, the original designed purpose for the Sony circuit was to have the camera in an sealed underwater housing... therefore the internal camera mics don't appear to be disabled when the A/V jack mic inputs are used... SO, you've got phase and crosstalk/noise issues out the wazoo - I haven't dumped the .MTS file yet to see what it looks like on the waveform on the timeline, but I'm guessing it's not going to be pretty... although I'm not 100% sure yet if the 5.1 circuit of the CX7 means that the front mics are disconnected... more tests, but familly time dictates they come later!

My suggestion for an external mic input would be the Sony one from B&H that uses the AIS shoe...

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...ughType=search

On the plus side, you should be able to use both simultaneously, although I don't have one to test - but my HW1 works fine, so I don't know why the VMCK100 shouldn't allow external mic. And the Sony Mic adapter is not expensive for the added functionality... I think I'll abandon the mic inputs via the A/V jack idea entirely unless further testing shows the inputs replace the internal mics...
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Old December 24th, 2007, 09:37 PM   #14
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Hi Roger - we both must be typing simultaneously...

I think the AIS adapter is your best bet for mic IN, but maybe the other thing I should try is for a headphone out... the HW1 has one right on it, so I'm good with that, and my last attempt at using the A/V jack for audio out yielded too weak a signal to drive headphones... would require a preamp probably... more bulk!


Edit - Kids all snuggled warm in their beds, me out freezing in the shop fiddling over a warm test bench... did some more testing, with some interesting results... Now where's the old guy in the red suit with my shipment of parts??

As already noted, mic ins work, but onboard mics still active... BUT when adding in the HW1, strangeness happens! The mic "ins" become "outs"! Not as strong a signal as at the headphone jack of the HW1, but very close to usable, now we are back at two jacks... hmm. Odds are quite good that the AIS mic adapter will also cause the same result, cutting onboard mics, and turning ins to outs... not sure the level would really be adequate in a noisy envirnoment though.

Last edited by Dave Blackhurst; December 25th, 2007 at 02:41 AM. Reason: additional info
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Old December 28th, 2007, 12:24 AM   #15
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Hi Dave,

Thanks - sorry not sure if my last post got through.

Anyway, I'm back from reindeer riding : )

I've had good results with Rode mic attached through AIS and also the Sony bluetooth mic. I do need some kind of audio out monitoring capability. I may be in the minority here but a combination of AIS attached mics and audio out through your modification/adapter would be great for me!

Roger
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